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Spirituality

Seeing the Flower – or Its Shadow

Michelle Schiefelbein | Apr 16, 2022

The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the official views of the Baha'i Faith.

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Michelle Schiefelbein | Apr 16, 2022

The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the official views of the Baha'i Faith.

When I woke up today, the first thing I saw – a flower in a vase on my windowsill, and its shadow cast by the sun on my wall – made me reflect on reality and its shadows.

Thinking about what I perceived this morning as a profound image, I contemplated all of the inner significance that stems from the beauty, diversity, and vibrancy of the oneness of humanity and all created things. 

Oneness, we know, is our true reality. 

Oneness is colorful and alive – and that, by its very nature, makes it impossible to see or produce separation in any form. We cannot separate ourselves from each other, regardless of the human race’s insatiable appetite and ability to try, whether consciously or subconsciously, to subvert it. 

The flower I saw spoke to me of our inter-connectedness and reliance on each other through a new form of consultation, collaboration, action, and reflection. That new form of human interaction comes from the Baha’i teachings – which urge everyone to rediscover our organic unity as one human race:

For a single purpose were the Prophets, each and all, sent down to earth; for this was Christ made manifest, for this did Baha’u’llah raise up the call of the Lord: that the world of man should become the world of God, this nether realm the Kingdom, this darkness light, this satanic wickedness all the virtues of heaven – and unity, fellowship and love be won for the whole human race, that the organic unity should reappear and the bases of discord be destroyed and life everlasting and grace everlasting become the harvest of mankind.

RELATED: A Baha’i Prescription for Achieving Human Unity

This kind of organic oneness values every human being as a creation of the Unknowable Essence – one Creator. 

When we recognize that human oneness, we take part in a higher spiritual dimension led by a knowledge derived from the unknown – an unknown that has been with humankind forever, and yet is constantly renewed. Within that unknown dimension of our spiritual beings, we can experience a deep, knowing consciousness that is unexplainable yet explainable, vast, limitless, expansive, and dimensional. 

This conscious recognition of our oneness causes a spiritual, creative flowing that reflects deeply, not only on the reality, but even on its shadow. It reveals a spirit that speaks of and for truth, is transparent, full of joy and energy, and is fed by the water of life – water which is clear, pure and vital to our growth. 

Oneness nourishes all life. The shadow, on the other hand, is just a fleeting figment of our true reality. It represents distortion. It lacks vibrancy, dimensionality, life. It is a false reality void of spiritual consciousness – a lower state that, without constant spiritual effort, can fuel judgment, rightness, solid form, and a flattened view of our existence. This shadow, if left unchecked, can reduce our ability to see the truth and the living spirit in each of us; the reality of every being’s purpose, potential, uniqueness, and expression of the divine reality – a life-giving reality required for growth, health and life. 

Our true reality is one of diversity, radiance, and oneness rather than its shadow – which is flat, colorless, and unreal. In the end, understanding the spirit of our oneness slowly allows the shadow to fade. 

When that happens, internalizing our oneness gradually eliminates negative forces such as imitation of dominant and exclusive social conditioning. It diminishes privileges especially reserved and decided by only a few, and combats all forms of prejudice, war, black-and-white thinking, etc. 

In the end, the question for all of us becomes which image do we see?

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